Well, to quote Tennessee Vols legend John Ward, “It’s Football Time in Tennessee,” once again, and let me add a hearty “Welcome Back” from this football fan.

My favorite day, time and location are Friday nights in Elizabethton to watch and cheer for the Cyclones of Elizabethton High School. I know of no fans so fiercely loyal to their team (or cheer so enthusiastically) as those who fill Citizens Bank Stadium, and no better way to start the evening off than with a stop at Saucy’s Pizza Barn for a buffet supper before game time.

Saucy’s Pizza Barn opened two months ago at 101 Hudson Drive, the former site of Pizza Inn, near legendary for serving their pizza buffet to the citizens of Elizabethton. You will still find plenty of parking available outside. Their drive-up window is available for take-away orders. Saucy’s spotlessly clean main dining area seats about 80 patrons, sharing space with the pizza and salad bar. Beyond is an airy glassed-in porch, seating 40 or so, alongside Saucy’s new-building bar. Restrooms are centrally located and tidy.

Two area restaurant veterans, Valerie Coleman-Cuddy and Melody Bice, are Saucy’s new owners, keeping the familiar and successful pizza buffet theme, then expanding their sit-down menu to include a variety of sandwiches plus tasty new options for wings. As veteran restaurateurs, both Coleman-Cuddy and Bice know that customer service is of primary importance. Customer service at Saucy’s is exemplary. Our server Eric was friendly from the start. He made sure we were seated at the best table on the porch: outdoor vistas on three sides and a good view (very important) of the buffet line on the fourth.

Garlic Knots appetizer

My dining partner and I took Eric’s recommendation and ordered Saucy’s garlic knots ($4.99) as an appetizer, and were pleased with the result. The garlic knots were twists of Saucy’s nutty-tasting pizza dough, covered in garlic butter, dusted with parmesean cheese and baked crispy. Served with Saucy’s tomato basil red sauce, the garlic knots made a tasty opener to our buffet experience.

Saucy’s Salad Buffet — Salad Bar

One of the hardest tasks in managing buffet-style dining is keeping the salad bar re-stocked and free of debris. This is no problem at Saucy’s Pizza Barn. Using my clear view of the salad bar portion of the buffet line, I watched every Saucy’s employee who walked around or past the salad bar policing up some wayward food bits, wiping up spilled salad dressing while making sure the salad fixings were presentable and appetizing. Speaking of which, my own salad off the bar was properly chilled iceberg and bibb lettuce with fresh green peas, crunchy-fresh sliced purple onions, pungent black olives, and spicy pepperoncini, and topped with some freshly-made ( well, it sure tasted like it) vinaigrette dressing.

Saucy’s Pizza Buffet

Dining from Saucy’s pizza buffet, you will find that each pizza is 16 inches across, yielding 16 slices per pie. This means that each pizza can be enjoyed by more hungry patrons, that the thin crust stays crispy longer, and the individual slice does not need folding in half to make it easy to eat.

My dining partner and I chose our main meal from Saucy’s pizza bar ($8.99 per person). My portion included selections from pepperoni (no surprise), barbecue chicken (barbecue sauce tangy with nicely lingering heat), veggie (peppers, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms), and taco (just OK). My dining partner chose the pepperoni pinwheels (dough-wrapped pepperoni sliced into sections and baked), ham and cheese, (chipped deli ham and American cheese), and BLT (sliced tomato and loads of crumbled bacon, with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise for savory character). We also shared a plate of buffet-line spaghetti, cooked al dente and excellent with Saucy’s tomato basil beef ragu. Breadsticks were available, we declined.

The fastest moving items on Saucy’s buffet bar were desserts. I enjoyed the chocolate chip dessert pizza, while my dining partner had some cinnamon roll fingerlings. Both made a very nice finish to our pre-Cyclones repast.

The bottom line

Well, my dining partner and I had a great time cheering ourselves hoarse at that evening’s Elizabethton Cyclones football game, though we each felt a little full from our delicious buffet pizza and salad from Saucy’s Pizza Barn.

So why don’t you enjoy a pre-game meal at Saucy’s Pizza Barn?

Afterward, just leave your car where it is and take a stroll over to nearby Citizens Bank Stadium.

Take it from me; the walk will do you good.

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